PP/GC/PO/52 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, concerning proceedings in the Belgian Congress, 29 January 1831
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, [British Joint Commissioner of the London Conference to the provisional government of Belgium], Brussels, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "I send in a despatch the account of the proceedings in Congress this day respecting the protocole no. 11. They will, I think, afford sufficient evidence of the character of that assembly, and indicate with certainty, the conduct now necessary for the salvation of Europe from the consequences of presumptuous folly and villains. You cannot fail to have seen that those who govern the provisional gov[ernme]nt have all along been acting with the intent to throw this country into the hands of France, by creating confusion here, at the same time that they endeavoured to give a color to the assertion that the Belgians wish to belong to France, in order to afford to the Fr[ench] govern[men]t, for the acceptance of the crown and country. I believe I have continually [f.1v] stated this to you. The election of the Duc de Leuchtenberg was an obstacle to the French party connected with the present ministry of France because he is the child of the Jacobins of Paris and therefore the French ministry have so furiously opposed his nomination. On the other hand, his election would still produce an ultimate annexation of Belgium to France by the triumph of Marquis Lafayette and co., but I have been delighted [MS "dilighted"] to execute with unremitting diligence your orders to oppose it. As to the Duc de Nemours: the case is clear. I will not say that he may not be elected if the Congress be permitted to exist. Your protocole no.11 will however be a severe blow to his nomination inasmuch as it must entirely allay the fears of a partition upon which much of his strength depended. The effect is that to which I particularly adverted in my last, as beneficial, besides the general one [f.2r] attending the display of indubitable goodwill and sincerity on the part of the allies. The other effect I anticipated * are * is the bringing on of a crisis which sh[oul]d occur at the moment all the world must see that the Congress is unfit to govern any country, that in its folly it is ready to risk hostilities against all the powers of Europe, when all persons of sense and honesty must be disgusted, and must despise the members of it and unite heartily in the desire for that single chance of escape from destruction which is afforded by the choice of the Prince of Orange, and when the plan is ripe for turning the Congress out of doors as a necessary preliminary to the election of that Prince. The plot of which I told you Baron Krudener had sent the details to Prince Lieven is now about to be carried into operation. I hear it will take place tonight. Some facts may not be known to Krudener, and I will therefore mention them. The King of Holland has advanced 10,000 [pounds] in bills on Rothschild. The second section of the civic guard, which has now the guard of the Congress, is secured; a reg[imen]t of Hussars, a reg[imen]t of Lancers, the 15th Reg[imen]t of the Line, 4,000 men not at present armed, but who have arms at hand are to \ surround and / enter the [f.2v] Congress and turn the members out. Money is employed to buy the lowest of the populace and with effect, as I am told. The Minister of War is one of the party. He may be a traitor. Duvers is one also, and the Duc d'Ursel, they say. The co-operation of Ghent and Antwerp is secured and the general favor of the army inhabiting the city, all the merchants and a very large portion of the Congress. The question is whether there will be skill and courage enough on the side of the attackers to carry their point. If they possess only a moderate share of those qualities, I should think success certain and I am sure the overthrow of the Congress will be everywhere heard \ of / with satisfaction. If France does not interfere with arms, I think the P[rince] of Orange will be the sovereign and that we shall have a fair chance of a satisfactory settlement. You hint at the increased difficulty created by the protocole in the way of French interference. France certainly cannot interfere without a manifest violation her own favorite principle non intervention, [f.3r] for the quarrel is a purely domestic quarrel, and the Orange party have as good a right to overturn by means of the people the existing Congress, as the adverse \ party / had a right by means of the people to overturn the preceeding gov[ernme]nt. I have almost a conviction that France will interfere in arms. Proclamations are out all over town in favor of the P[rince] of Orange. De Celles is expected every hour, he will be active in consummating the schemes of which he has been the chief agent and probably he may bring assurances of French armed intervention. I hope he is not aware of the designs of the Orange party or at least of their maturity, and that he may find himself in the company of honest men who know him. I confess my strong desire that the Orangists may succeed, because I see no other hope for the prevention of all the evils that have been dreaded from the state of this country, but I have taken [f.3v] no part in what is going on. It is my duty to know what is intended and meditated by all parties. I write in great haste." 29 Jan 1831 The letter is marked: "Private" and it is noted on the docket that it was received on 31 January 1831. Enclosed are: (i) an edition of the newspaper, L'EMANCIPATION, printed in Brussels in French: a leading article on the Duke of Nemours is followed by home news, a lengthy report on the sitting of the Belgian Congress on 25 January 1831, and brief summaries of foreign news from France, Poland and Prussia. 27 Jan 1831 (ii) Edition of the newspaper, L'EMANCIPATION, printed in Brussels in French: reports speculating on the election of a sovereign taking place in the Belgian Congress are followed by a report on the sitting of the Congress on 27 January and other home news, and brief coverage of the Polish revolution. 29 Jan 1831
Four papers
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John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, British Joint Commissioner of the London Conference to the provisional government of Belgium
Belgium: revolt; revolution; independence
August Charles Eugene Napoleon, Duke of Leuchtenberg, Prince of Eichstadt
Marie Jean Paul Roch Yves Gilbert Motier, Marquis de la Fayette, or Lafayette, member of the French Chamber of Deputies, commander of the Parisian national guard
Louis, Duc de Nemours, second son of Louis Philippe, King of the French
Baron Krudener
Christoph Andreievich, Prince Lieven, Russian ambassador at London
William I, King of the Netherlands, later King of Holland
Rothschild, banker
?D.J.de Eerens, Dutch Minister of War
Charles Joseph, Duc d'Ursel
Ghent, Antwerp, Belgium
William Frederick, Prince of Orange, later William II, King of Holland
Antoine Charles Fiacre, Comte de Wisher de Celles, Vice President of the Committee for Foreign Relations of the provisional government of Belgium
Protocol number eleven of the London Conference of 20 January 1831: separation of Belgium from Holland
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